“I make lousy tea these days”, said my mother the other day. “I really can’t inflict my tea on anyone else.”
Not having tasted her tea for over a year, I really cannot comment on whether it is now as lousy as she claims, but her statement got us thinking on what really goes into making a good tea.
The tea I brew may not score very high either on a taste scale or on an authenticity scale, but it is as hot and as strong as tea can get without getting unhealthy.
Indians tend to boil the milk and water together, throw in tea leaves, and let it simmer on low heat for a few minutes. While that makes for a strong cuppa, the boiling draws out the harmful tannins, which reacts with the milk to form something mildly toxic.
The Brits put tea leaves in boiled water, and add milk only after staining the tea leaves out of the infusion. Too much hard work, if you ask me.
I compromise by boiling milk and water, then adding the tea leaves and letting it brew. Which makes for a tea that is not ‘lousy’, but isn’t ‘great’ either.
Which brings me to my original question. What is a good tea? Is it an absolute, or a variable? Most often, isn’t ‘good’ merely something you are used to or something you have pleasant memories of?
Isn’t it the same with anything – food, books, movies, clothes, vacation spots?